I must confess that I didn't know if this novel was really my cup of tea, but 'He Is Mine and I Have No Other' was surprisingly engaging and enjoyable.
I felt as though I could completely empathise with Lani, the main character, a teenage girl in 1990s Ireland (brought back a few memories from my own mid-teen years in 1980s England actually!) - and I appreciated that there was much more going on than the surface angsty teen love story.
Rebecca O'Connor writes well about various different family dynamics and relationships and the impact on children of adults actions.
Some might say that the insertion of passages from the perspective of those who died decades ago was unnecessary and detracts from the main plot, but I think it shows much about what has and what hasn't changed in the lives, minds and feelings of young girls and their relationships with others.
All in all a good read, which intrigued me and kept my thoughts turning over what I'd been reading and wondering where the story was going while I was away from the book doing other things.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance copy of this novel in return for an honest review.
We meet Lani when she is 15, living in a small town in Ireland in the 1990s. In many ways she is a fairly typical teenager, trying to make sense of an adult world whilst experiencing the turmoil of adolescent emotions. She is fascinated by Leon, a boy from a nearby school who she sees visiting the local cemetery on a regular basis and develops a teenage crush on him. How this pans out is revealed as the book progresses.
On the whole I enjoyed this book. There were a lot of perceptive observations which rang very true - Lani is mortified when her Mother becomes pregnant after a very long gap and she is excruciatingly embarrassed when the conversations surrounding the pregnancy become too intimate, she has a best friend at school with all the usual highs and lows which accompany that relationship and there is also the angst-ridden, all-consuming passion of falling in love for the first time, complete with the resultant loss of any vestiges of common sense and sanity. There were also hints of a mystery surrounding Leon’s past which made me want to keep reading.
There were a couple of aspects of the book with which I wasn’t so enamoured. It is a little on the slow side and drags a bit at times. Also the somewhat arbitrary introduction of the orphans felt to me as though it was purely for padding - although this sub-plot was interesting, I thought it could equally well have been a separate book and did not seem to contribute directly to Lani’s experience of trying to negotiate her teenage years.
If you are looking for a fast-paced book with a well-defined beginning, middle and an end, this may not be the book for you. It is however a gentle snapshot of a teenage girl’s life and, if you are my sort of age, a stark reminder of what we went through many moons ago. Worth a read.